"This Prayer is for Hannah"

October 21, 2009
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As far as I can remember, I have had a good life. My parents are still together, I live in a safe neighborhood, and putting food on the table was never difficult for my family. Everything seemed simple and easy; until Tuesday December 23rd three years ago. I can remember it as clear as day, those grueling hours playback in my head almost every night. I try hard to block that day out but it is nearly impossible. December is no longer a cheery time in the Bloomingdale residence, so much for a happy holiday.
But anyways, I’ll take you back in time, to when things seemed okay, to before the dreadful December 23rd.

“Sarah, I think it is time for you to get off the computer and finish up your homework” my fathers’ deep voice echoed behind me. “Alright” I groaned as I exed out of my Instant Messaging Buddy list and pulled up my dark-brown hair that perfectly matched my eyes into a ponytail. As soon as I got up from the burgundy wood chair, my younger sister Hannah sat down. Her unraveling braid draped over her left shoulder swung from side to side as she vigorously typed an email to her friend. Hannah was a social butterfly, she was always online. “Girls, when are you going to stop obsessing over the computer?” “Do we have to take it away from you in order for your homework to get done?” My petite mother asked while lighting a green apple candle placed above the fireplace. “I will stop going on the computer the day you stop watching the seven

o’clock news”, I fired back. A frown spread across my fathers’ face while my mothers’ eyes squinted so much it looked as thought they were closed. I knew these signs of trouble for me, so I turned and left the den as quickly as possible, bolting to my bedroom to finish my geometry homework. Later that evening, after a steaming hot shower and a bowl of low-fat mint chocolate chip ice cream (Mothers’ choice) I was ready to crawl onto my fluffy purple duvet cover, placed neatly upon my bed and read a good book. Not long after I flipped open my book, a light knock surfaced my bedroom door and Hannah walked in. Tears were strolling down her cheeks and her eyes were puffy and red. “My stomach hurts real badly” she said while gripping her stomach for dramatic effect. “Hannah, why are you always so dramatic! It’s not like your dying! There are children in this world who have deathly diseases and they are more tolerant than you!” I shouted in her face, I knew this was extremely harsh and I regretted it as soon as the words rolled off my tongue; but I was sick of the over exaggeration she constantly displayed. But like any 9 year old girl, what I said had hurt her feelings, and the tears started rolling faster. As she bolted out of my room, I decided to be more considerate to Hannah’s feelings next time.

The next morning, the twenty-third, after a quick bowl of cereal and gulp of orange juice, I rode to school in my family’s white Volvo with my mother. After arriving at Walsh High School and chatting with friends, I went up to homeroom in time for the second bell. All the events following went by as normal. Finally, after a long day of geometry, literature and science I was ready for the weekend to begin. Once arriving

home, I was told to come along with my family to Hannah’s doctor appointment at the local hospital, so our family could go out to dinner in the city after.
I have always hated the doctor’s office. You get a whiff of cleaning products that overtake your senses as soon as you open the lobby door. Like always, I stayed in the waiting room and read outdated magazines while Hannah and my mother went in. The whole purpose of this appointment was to review tests that were taken of Hannah weeks before, she had been sick more often than usual so the doctors had agreed to take some tests to be safe. After skimming two celebrity magazines and looking through a lame parenting guide, I was beginning to get bored, more than ready to leave. Soon after, my mother came out of the office with a tense face and icy eyes, telling me to get in the car with a flat voice. After an awkwardly-silent car ride home, my mother told me she was heading back over to the hospital to review and take more tests with Hannah. I was extremely curious and worried, but I decided not to say anything and I headed inside to eat hawaiin pizza and watch my favorite movie. A few hours later, they finally returned home. Once settling inside, my mother sat me down to talk. She explained to me that the doctors believed that Hannah has Leukemia, a life-threatening cancer. I was shocked, I couldn’t speak, I felt dizzy and I was forced to grip the arm of a chair to keep me from collapsing. How could this be happening? This isn’t fair, I thought to myself. Later on that night, I cried myself to sleep; it’s amazing how your world can turn upside down in less than 24 hours.

Months went by, Hannah’s cancer confirmed by doctors. Things were not noticeably different at this time, however. But as time went on, she began losing her appetite and started becoming weak. For already tiny Hannah, this was not good. It tore

me up inside to watch her decline like this. My heart ached for Hannah, I realized how much she meant to me as a sister. If she died from this disease I would be heart broken.

In late March, Hannah began her treatments at The Children’s Hospital in Boston. She never complained and was always polite to every doctor and nurse. Even though she was fearful, she was great at putting on a good face for the process. Each passing day our family would be walking on egg shells, not knowing what would happen to Hannah. To make matters worse, my parents began to struggle financially in order to pay the bills for the ultra-expensive treatments. Finally, in mid-October my family moved to a much smaller house across town. Our old house was much-too big and expensive for the hard times we were facing. Two years ago, I would have been upset if I was not allowed to go shopping and buy the latest fashions, but now I hardly spend any money on something as small as a pack of gum. I’m willing to do anything to help Hannah get better.

By December, only a year after Hannah’s diagnosis, things were not looking promising. The word terminal became a more frequent word in my parent’s vocabulary. She was really sick and did not seem herself. My parents took this as an opportunity to scrape together enough money to a take a family vacation that may be our last with her. They wanted Hannah to experience different things because I think the reality that we may lose her had become quite real. The thought of Hannah dying made my cringe. I could not picture my life without her, she’s an amazing sister.

During the 3-hour plane ride home from California, once our ears stopped popping like popcorn in a microwave from take off, I took the opportunity to talk to her.

“Han?” I questioned. “Yah Sarah?” Hannah replied. “Are you scared?” I spoke softly. “Scared? No, scared wouldn’t be the word. Although you might think I would be,
considering I’m only 11 and I’m dying, but I am….hmm…well, I guess you could say that I am thankful.” “Thankful? But why?” I muttered in confusion. “Well, for starters, I
have gotten to mature in a way others will not be able too.” Her big brown eyes filled up with tears as her long brown hair blew in the air. “I was able to make bad situations positive even when they were terrifying. I learned how to connect to God and how to stay strong even when I am weak. Although, I do not want to leave the world at such a young age and leave my family. I am thankful that I have lived such a great life and I pray that when I die I will go to heaven.” I took a sip of water while I took every word my sister said in. Wow, I guess she has matured, I can’t believe the words I just listened to were from an eleven year old, especially my eleven year old sister. I have come to the conclusion that she is the strongest person I know. I wish I could say the things she just said. But, truthfully, I know I wouldn’t be able too. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I went to hug my sister. For the rest of the ride home, we spent the time hugging, crying, and laughing, all at the same time.

Just five weeks after the trip to California, Hannah Emily Bloomingdale lost her battle against Leukemia and passed away. My heart could not have been emptier. For the months after, it was extremely difficult for my family to cope with the situation. We knew Hannah was in heaven, which was where she truly wanted to be in the end. She did not want us to be sad so we did our best to think about the good times we had with her. Even now I miss her terribly but I know that one day I’ll be able to see her again. I will

always remember the words she said on the plane. And I will do my best to follow her words of wisdom and live by them, everyday….in her honor. God bless Hannah.

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. said...
Nov. 26, 2009 at 6:31 am
Really awesome story! It reminds me of My Sister's Keeper. You did a great job at capturing emotion in your writing and Hannah is a very inspiring character. Keep writing :)
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